Sunday, November 29, 2009

Cay's Advent Daybook

FOR TODAY... from Cay's Daybook

Outside my window...
Christmas tree lights are gently reflecting off the living room's glass storm door.
I am hearing...
I am thinking...
How blessed my family is and how thankful I am for it all.
I am thankful for...
my faith walk.
I am wearing...
blue polo shirt with blue pin-striped, white capris, bare feet, and day-old make-up.
I am remembering...
Past Christmases
This is my note to myself...
Actually I'm making notes to myself on my sidebar for my plans don't get lost under the tinsel and fake snow.
I was...
busy turning my house into a minature North Pole all day...with lots of help from many elves.
I am reading...
Lessons at Blackberry Inn by Karen Andreola

I am creating...
Another Mother Missive for the 2nd Sunday of Advent
that this new liturgical year will be spiritually fruitful and thoughtfully up-lifting.
On my mind...
The true meaning behind Advent
From the learning rooms...
Planning easy learning weeks for Advent. A little bit of:
My list this week... is on my sidebar:
  • It's Cookie Week here...looking for fun cookie book reading & selecting holiday cookies to bake
  • Order Christmas cards
  • Help write and mail Santa letter
  • Help girls with Christmas shopping lists
  • Pull Secret Santa Names
  • Shop for baby shower gift
  • Clean out girls' room
  • Plan Christmas Menu
Pondering these words...
"I can only imagine..." song by Mercy Me
From the kitchen...
Lots of yummy leftover...I made a hamburger/mac casserole last night, husband made chicken fricassee for lunch today.
Around the house...
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...
And the little girls' room is complete. I'm excited! They're excited. Annie loves her "new-to-her" bed and where it's positioned and Chelsea is taking very seriously the task to keep the room clean and tidy. My "little" girls are growing up!
One of my favorite things...
Christmas Trees!
From my picture journal...
Miss Lucy oversees Chef Chelsea baking some cupcakes for Keepers Meeting.

Advent Vigilance

Advent Vigilance
by Venerable John Henry Newman

"If, indeed, we listen to the world, we shall take another course... We shall have a secret shrinking from the Church's teaching. We shall have an uneasy, uncomfortable feeling when mention is made of the maxims of holy men and ascetical writers, not liking them, yet not daring to dissent. We shall be scanty in supernatural acts, and have little or nothing of the habits of virtue which are formed by them, and are an armor of proof against temptation. We shall suffer our souls to be overrun with venial sins, which tend to mortal sin, if they have not already reached it...

"I say, that we must not only have faith in the Lord, but must wait on him; not only must hope, but must watch for him; not only love him, but must long for him; not only obey him, but must look out, look up earnestly for our reward, which is himself. ...we must make it our duty not the believe in the world, not to hope in the world, not to love the world. We must resolve not to hang on the world's opinion, or study its wishes. It is our mere wisdom to be thus detached from all things below."

(Taken from November 2009 Magnificat (R))

* * * * *

"God empowers and sends us out from the Mass on a mission to be like Christ for the world: to love others as He has loved us."  ~  Do I Have to Go? by Matthew Pinto and Christopher Stefanick
American writers, present day

Advent Mosaic Special 2009 ~ Week I

I'm afraid the free print-out for this Sunday's Advent book and meditation is not up yet at least, not the correct printout; and that's my fault entirely. I'm not a compulsive perfectionist (5 children completely broke me of that vice) but I am a compulsive tweaker, adjustor, editor. I'm never completely satisfied with anything and at some point have to just let it go and let God tweak it; so I sent my publisher three different emails saying "Wait! Use This One!" "Wait! Final Copy! I Promise!"  Then, with the holidays, the webmaster was not available to load the updated one. Entirely my fault or---my bad---as the young people say.

Still, I don't want you to miss this first day of Advent, the first day of the liturgical year, the first day of waiting and preparation.

Getting Ready:

Items you should have on your reading table:
 Computer
 Copy of this study (for writing purposes)
 Holiday Binder (to place these sheets when done)
 Scented Candle & matches (do not light until told to do so)
 Pretty gel pen
 A copy of Angela and the Baby Jesus by Frank McCourt/ illustrated by Raul Colon
 a pretty Christmas journal
 a cup with your favorite holiday brew
 a nativity-crèche
 a Bible

Song Meditation:

To start our Christmas Comfort for Mothers this Advent 2009, you are all invited to click on this link when you have a simple moment in your day:

What Child is This? by Michael Card

Close your eyes and absorb the music. Breathe in. Breathe out. Meditate on the music.
This is your chance to hear God speaking to you in the stillness, the time and place you have chosen to meet him. Listen for His voice---His call---His word.

Focus on the Chorus…


This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and Angels sing;
Haste, haste, to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

 Our theme and word to focus on this week is ~ GENTLENESS ~
When the corrected printout version is loaded, we will continue with the storybook for this week. In the meantime, Hillside has limited copies of the book Angela and the Baby Jesus for anyone still needing a copy of the book. Though I encourage you to check with your library first, these are all books that you will be grateful to own and add to your Advent bookshelf or keep in your holiday sleigh for your children and grandchildren. The next three books are listed on this page and are being offered at a discounted price.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

What We Ate

Our Thanksgiving Meal:

  • 2 Turkeys & 2 Hams
  • Giblet Gravy (Cheryl)
  • Cornbread Dressing (Jan)
  • Green Bean Casserole (Cay)
  • Corn Casserole (Cay)
  • Spinach and Artichoke Frittata (Cay)
  • Cranberry Sauce (Vince)
  • Yam Casserole (Charlotte)
  • Fruit Salad (Gloria)
  • Bread (Cay)
  • Pie (Tammy)
  • Brownies (Charlotte)
  • Honey Bun Cake (Kayleigh)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Monday, November 23, 2009

Daybook of Thankfulness

FOR TODAY... from Cay's Daybook
Outside my window...
my windows are crying
I am hearing...
a dog bark...a dog whine...two younger daughters quietly talking
I am thinking...
of the fun we had with like-minded friends this weekend. Great fun! Great fellowship!
I am thankful for...
the fact, in this fretful economy, my husband and three older children all have jobs and, more importantly, they are all healthy and able to work.
And that everyone made it safely back home from sport travels this weekend.
I am wearing...
blue floral pajamas
I am remembering...
what an awesome, fun weekend we had with the soccer team.
This is my note to myself...
Get off your duff and get some writing done this week!
I was...
watching Barbie's "A Christmas Carol" with Annie in bed last night.
I am reading...
Recipes and Wooden Spoons (A Grace Chapel Inn Tale)

I am creating...
Mother's Comfort for Advent (a mini-retreat starting the 1st Sunday of Advent, just for Moms)
I am hoping..

that this new liturgical year will be spiritually fruitful and thoughtfully up-lifting.

On my mind...

the new entertainment center is kinda big...just kinda.
From the learning rooms...

Thanksgiving Play last week and pulled Thanksgiving books off the shelf to read this week...simple Thanksgiving lapbook with Annie...that's school...and I'm thankful.

My list this week..
  • Order Christmas cards
  • Help write and mail Santa letter
  • Help girls with Christmas shopping lists
  • Wash and pack for Thanksgiving trip
  • Shop for baby shower gift
  • Clean out girls' room

Pondering these words...

"The Lord says: my plans for you are peace and not disaster..." Jer 29:11

"Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful." ~ John 14:27

From the kitchen...

Cleaned out refrigerator...organized freezer...planned and shopped for this week's menu...actually it was last week's menu...I'm a week behind:

  • Meatball Poboys/ Friendship Bread
  • Seafood Casserole
  • Hamburger/Noodle Casserole/ Butterfinger Pie
  • Chicken & Angel Hair Alfredo & Salad
  • Blend of the Bayou...
  • Bacon-Mushroom Spaghetti Pie/ Cranberry-Buttermilk Bread
  • Ham & Lima Bean Pot
  • Shrimp and Eggplant Casserole & Spinach Bread

(ETA:: I needed to come back and tell you all that this menu got us through 2 weeks. We certainly don't eat this way every night.)

And I cannot wait to use these lovely kitchen comforts warmed and knitted for me by Joann, a mom who understands and loves picture books as much as I do and who doesn't realize how much she has taught me about being grateful for little houses and what we have in them.

Aren't the holiday colors---I'm thinking of cranberries---simply perfect!!! Thank you, Joann!

Around the house...

we are picking out new paint colors for the living room and kitchen walls. Any suggestions for either room?

This is also the week to declutter and rearrange the little girls' room. It's must-do!

One of my favorite things...

fresh paint!

From my picture journal...

A priceless photo of the Knights soccer team with Coach Larry (voted Coach-of-the-Year) at the State Soccer Tournament this weekend (Knights played their hearts out and placed 3rd in State!). So much fun! The children's faces are worth a 1,000 words.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Christmas Comfort for Moms

The idea for this mini-retreat for mothers came to me at the beginning of November but first I had to locate the books I prayed would move mothers' hearts and churn their souls. I had just given my publisher at Hillside the books titles to order when various other picture books studies started to glitter around the blogosphere. They shine bright and warm with the love and generosity that I know reflects the giving spirit of the women who create this studies and share them so freely. I know these women. Their hearts are giving and generous and prayerful. We are all blessed and thankful for their servitude to our families.

Still, the sparkle of these studies gave me pause. I was unsure whether to share the reflections God had cushioned in my heart. I paused because there is so much out there already. The Internet (while a blessing and a privilege) has made it thus. It's a stressful time when it should be relaxing. It's an overwhelming time when it should be peaceful. That's not the message I wanted to share in my literature reflections. That's not the message any of us mean to share. Still...there's so much out there that it has quelled me from hardly writing anything in the past year or two. So I prayed some more. And I read Jennifer's wonderful post which spoke so clearly and beautifully my own thoughts and sharings how to Prepare the Way of the Lord!

I decided there was no practical reason for keeping my little book reflection to myself. I believe it will prove to be as wonderful and lovely and heart-warming as these other studies... and it is also free. The difference is that this picture book reflection is strictly for mothers. It is not a lesson plan, not a reading time and craft time with your children. It is only for you...the mother who might be overwhelmed and stressed...who might need a little tranquil time during the next 4 weeks of Advent to reflect and pray and seeks to reclaim the vision of who she is called to serve and what she is called to do. This reflection is meant to take you away from the hustle and bustle of the commercial aspects of Advent and give you a time and focus to recapture and meditate on the spiritual aspects.

I truly hope it blesses you.

Again, this reflection is not meant to increase your plans. It is meant to take you away from them. A weekly post will be shared on my blog each Sunday of Advent and discussion (if any) can happen here. One book will be opened each Sunday and examined throughout the week. If you do nothing else but listen to Christmas carols and leaf through the lovely pages of these books, this Christmas Comfort of reflective picture books will bless you.

The guide sheets will probably be only one sheet..unless I get extra creative and carried away...and will be stored at Hillside Education. They will guide you through the books, offering thoughts, prayers, suggestions, and quotes for you to ponder and breathe in. Journal writing is encouraged.

I know how busy you busy we all are. It's almost scary...except that we are driven by love and service and charity for our families. That is a good thing. Slowing down for ourselves is a good thing too but much more difficult.

You will want to find (check with your library first...if they don't have them they can get them for you) the following picture books:

Hillside Education is making arrangements to have these books on hand for you to order as well.
In addition to these picture books, you might want to have:
  • a cheerfully adorned Christmas basket to hold your books and supplies
  • a pretty Christmas journal
  • favorite colored gel pen
  • a radio with a tape or DVD of soothing Christmas carols playing in the background
  • a candle with your favorite scent---peppermint, sugar cookie, evergreen, etc.
  • a cup of hot cocoa with a peppermint stick or a cup of holiday-flavored tea
  • a nativity set nearby
  • here is a lovely idea for an Advent/Christmas Notebook which is sure to give you candy loads of ideas and inspiration.

Again, this Christmas Comfort for Moms is not a study or a curriculum guide. It is a reflective time for you to break away from your other multitude of wonderful, life-giving plans and embrace the holiday season, reclaim the peace and joy that God desires for all wives and mothers this time of year. Hopefully, it will give you the motivation to draw richer meaning out of the other riches you find sprinkled around the Internet. As I have espoused in A Picture Perfect Childhood, sometimes we only need to capture 15-minutes to reclaim our vision of who we are called to serve and what we are called to do.

Blessing to you all for a happy and holy and sanctified Advent season!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

What Has Happened to Our Homes

Timeline: Early 1800's

The Ideal of Domesticity ~ "The era's changing economic order brought other pressures to bear on wives and mothers. Most men now worked outside the home, while the rise of factories led to a decline in part-time work such as spinning, which women had once performed to supplement family income. Moreover, except on the fontier, home manufacturing was no longer essential, for the family purchased articles that women previously had made, such as cloth, soap, and candles. 'The transition from mother-and-daughter power to water-and-steam power,' one New England minister noted, produced 'a complete revolution of domestic life.'

"This growing separation of the household from the workplace meant that the home took on a new social identity. It was idealized as a place of 'domesticity,' a haven away from the competitive, workaday world, with the mother firmly at its center. This new view of women's role was elaborated largely by clergy and female authors in sermons, advice manuals, and pieces of sentimental fiction for an urban middle-class audience. But the ideal's significance and acceptance had far-reaching consequences. ...If men's sphere was the world of factories, offices, and fields, women's sphere was the home, where they were to dispense love and comfort and teach moral values to husbands and children. 'Love is our life our reality, business yours,' Mollie Clark told one suitor."

(Quotes from my son's college history text: Nation of Nations: A Narrative History of the American Republic: Chapter 12, The Fires of Perfection


Partly I'm surprised how much this history book focuses on religion and women's role in history. Quite a bit, in fact. It is not always dealt with positively; infact, much of it is dealt with negatively but I hear the historical correctness in it as well and I try to discern between my own idealization and the historical truth while searching for the Biblical truth. I have been increasingly aware of the fact that, apart from the Christian context, most of society in the 21st century is turning towards (has been turned towards) factorization of families as parts of whole institutionalized groups, businesses and schools when, in fact, this mindset does not invite or welcome God's plan for the family into the equation.

When we dismember the body of the family, we are, in many ways, disassembling the very body of Christ.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


(Autumn heart created by Chelsea)

The Christmas commercials have begun. Or, perhaps they have been going but I don't watch television hardly ever so I was unaware that Christmas had come to TV-land. I was recently made aware of this knowledge.

Real-life cobwebs now straddle our fake cobwebs over the Halloween village. Time for that to come down. We haven't been home long enough to take it down. Definitely time!

I like to leave the other autumn decorations up through Thanksgiving then there is a need inside my soul to allow some breathing time (at least two weeks) of clutter-free living before putting up the Christmas decorations.

But, at least, I'm home today to do this. I'm thankful.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

The days are getting shorter...the nights are getting longer...and there is a chill in the air.

Bringin' In the Sheaves

God's perfect classroom for boys!
Inside a rice silo.

Big toys!
Annie harvested a Dr. Pepper bottle full of fresh rice to bring home and make her daddy a pot of rice. Louisiana girls enjoy Louisiana rice!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Begin a New Christmas Tradition with Your Children

Two reasons to order Christmas Mosaic now:
  • Christmas is only 51 days away
  • Advent begins in 25 days

This book is not only to enjoy with your children. There's lots of Christmas comfort food in it for the mother as well. When the children are safely nestled in their beds, it's time for Mom to microwave herself a quick cup of hot cocoa and sit down to enjoy essays by Elizabeth, Alice, Dawn, Mary Ellen, Kathryn, Karen, Margot, and yours truly. There are poems to savor as well as the beautiful artwork by the gifted Sean Fitzpatrick.

Relax and take a breather. Come to think of it...let me make it a little easier on you. Starting the first Sunday of Advent---and each Sunday of Advent this year---I will offer a mini-retreat for mothers here at the Cajun Cottage. I know how busy you busy we all are. It's almost scary...except that we are driven by love and service and charity for our families.

Christmas Mosaic makes this busy time of year do-able, tranquil, soothing, beautiful, colorful, reflectively holy, refreshingly blessed. Welcoming this beautiful Christmas wreath trimmed with picture books into your home and hearth will allow you to embrace the soft, starlit days of Advent and beyond...through Epiphany.

A Reflection on Sharing Books with Children at Christmas by Elizabeth Foss
A Reflection on Preparation by Alice Gunther
A Reflection on Santa Claus by Cay Gibson
A Reflection on Hannukah by Kathryn Faulkner
A Reflection on the Nativity by Karen Edmisten
A Reflection on Angels by Cay Gibson
A Reflection on Epiphany by Margot Davidson
Celebrating December Birthdays by Cay Gibson A Reflection on St. Nicholas by Mary Ellen Barrett

I can almost...almost...smell the Christmas cooking and baking now. Round, doughy lumps of chocolate chip batter stuck on the fork and fingers. Peppermint extract pinched into melted white chocolate. A plate of warm molasses cookies shared by Julie and a recipe for orange-spiced snowballs shared by Dawn are already on the menu to be enjoyed with these scrumptious picture books: The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey and An Orange for Frankie.

For those who already own Christmas Mosaic, you know there are still lots more picture books inside that crystal igloo---as thick as soft-falling snow---ready to be dug out and read anew this Advent.

You will want to get ready with a cup of hot cocoa (frothing with marshmallows) and your library card to check these warm, cozy books out and enjoy them while these goodies stew on your stovetop or bake in your oven.

Begin a new tradition with your children. Open this book. And come back soon for further details of the upcoming Christmas Comfort for Moms: A Retreat

Pumpkin Moonshine

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